Local daily El Mercurio has disclosed that Pope Francis has expelled the Chilean priest Cristian Precht Bañados who is under investigation for child sex abuse.
Precht was a former head of the Church’s Vicariate of Solidarity human rights group that in the 1980s had challenged ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet to end the practice of torture in Chile. The well-known Chilean religious leader has since been accused of sexual abuse as part of the investigation into allegations against members of the Marist Brothers religious community. Precht has previously denied the charges.
Precht’s defrocking is the first formal resignation the Pope has decreed since every bishop in Chile offered to step down in May over the country’s sex abuse scandal. The move is thought to be unprecedented in the modern history of the Catholic Church.
Pope Francis announcement comes as Chilean police raid church offices throughout the Andean nation looking for new cases of sexual abuse or evidence that church officials concealed abuse from authorities.